- Spare clothing
- Spare runners
- Plasters / First Aid Kit
- Food and supplements including salt tablets
- Torch and spare batteries
- Moxie Gear
- Rain Coat / Thermals
Our support crew member Tania, was not meeting us until around 6pm so I wanted to ensure that I had enough food and water to cover us until then (with a brief stop off at 7/11). I think everything was ready to go, the alarm was set for 4.15am, as Tania was picking us up at 5am before she headed off to work.
We eventually found the rest of the team, as well as Lizzies team with one of the her team members turning around a prodding on my toe (ouch), this was not a good start, I know it wasn't done on purpose, but for your big toe to start throbbing before we had even started was not a good thing.
The queue for registration was enormous and we only had about 10minutes for the start, the queue actually looked worse that what it was and we went through registration pretty smoothly. Bibs collected, we had to then head to the start line, bumping into the team from Endurance Boot Camp who were starting at 7.30am.
Worryingly we hadnt warmed up or anything before we were setting off, initially it was decided to try and jog out of Jells park just to try and seperate ourselves from the crowds. We made our way through to the start line, and counted down to the start.
Jells Park - Churchill National Park (Check point 1)
It was amazing how many teams were separated, either running on their own or in teams of two as someone would sprint ahead and wait for the rest of team, even though we were also guilty for stomping ahead of our team, I still believe that its a team event then you should all walk together, and maybe having the same rules as Worlds Toughest Mudder (where you are all attached to each other, would eliminate this issue), either that or actually allow for teams of two to enter.
Sarge and I were having some banter with some other teams, and even so early on I think people minds were starting to wonder (as they discussed the possibility of doing the whole course naked), hhhmm think I will opt out of that one.
As we made it through Churchill National Park, crossing over the road and were on our way to checkpoint 1. At this stage we were on target of completing the 100kms in 18hours, but we still had another 6 check points to get though and 78km, anything could happen. Sarge and I rearranged ourselves at the checkpoint, went to the toilet ect as we waited for Dave and Greg to come in, a quick spray with the deodorant to stop any chances of smelling, a bite of a banana, and a quick call to find out where they were at. Not too far behind, as I walked back to meet them, Greg was looking like he was struggling a bit with walking and Dave didnt seem too bad, although he was saying he was in a lot of pain, I think mainly to do with the concrete paths. We only stopped for a short period of time once the boys had arrived, no support crew were allowed at the first check point.
Total Time: 1hr 46min
This is a great section, and very pretty especially when you get to the top of hill onto Lysterfield track, it was at this point that I realised that my lovely blister prevention plasters were actually causing blisters. I was so focused at getting to the top of hill to remove the plasters, that I didnt even see the kangaroos that were feeding on the grass next to me, until Dave pointed them out.
It didnt take long to realise the plaster had moved, so I removed it, put another one on and caught up with the rest of the team as we headed into Lysterfield.
I wouldn't be English if I didnt comment on the weather, it was really a perfect day for it, not too hot or windy. It was a great day for a walk.
Tania met us here, and I grabbed my Powerade, Sarge refuelled. We stopped a little longer than initially anticipated, but we were soon on our way again. We were still on a good time to complete within the 18 hours, so didnt get too hung up about waiting too long.
Total Time: 1hr 25min
Cumulative Time: 3hrs 11min
Cumulative Distance: 21km
I trekked up the Dargon Track, turning around a couple of times and going up backwards, by this stage the I could feel the blister at the back of my heel again emerging, so it was easier to relieve the pressure when going up hill. I had lost sight of Dave and couldn't see Sarge or Greg, so I just kept going. Once I got the roads, I started to run again and then walked up the hills, conserving as much energy as possible, we were only a quarter of the way through and still had a long way to go.
As I was running down the hill, I had a couple of missed calls from Dave, not in a position to answer as your heading down the hill, I called back as soon as I was able too. He was at 7/11 picking up some supplies, so I just got another powerade and nutrition water, I wasn't too far away so would see him in a couple of minutes.
As I approached 7/11 I saw Dave emerge, I just crossed over and waited for him on the other side, whilst I tried to sort out that stupid blister. This was not good to get so soon into the walk, but I guess all I could do endure it, what else was I going to do, stop?? Don't think so.
We started walk as we were getting close to check point 3 and knew we would have to wait for Sarge and Greg at the check point, so we slowed the pace to allow them to catch up. Not long down the path, Sarge had caught up to us, so we kept varying the speeds. As we got to the Burwood Highway to cross, we spotted Greg further down crossing the road, the benefits of longer legs (probably didnt have to run to catch up with us), so we all arrived at the next check point together.
Lizzie and Tania were to greet us and had a little area all set out, I did indulge in a doughnut which tasted so, so good. Greg was having some issues with his feet, so Lizzie and Tania had a look at the strapping, it looked like whoever had strapped his feet actually missed a couple of sections between the toes, so his toes were rubbing together. Once Greg had his feet fixed, we were back on our way, at this point I was grateful I had opted for the toe socks and second pair to try and minimise any friction issues that I may have had, the only regret at this stage was the blister prevention plasters.
Total Time: 2hrs 1min
Cumulative Time: 5hrs 12min
Cumulative Distance: 31.7km
The main thing I remember about this section are the hills, wow the hills, they really didnt stop, taking the opportunity when you could to run down the them were great, especially as you really had to trust your feet and gravity otherwise it would have been tough. The worst part would be the pressure on the back of the heel from that stupid blister, so I had to keep changing the direction of which I walked ie. turning feet inwards, so I wasn't at much of an angle. The forest and track were amazing, especially when you're running downthem, you could have been anywhere and you felt you were a million miles away.
We spoke to another English guy as were making our way up the top off one of the many uphill sections, whom proceeded to tell us about Mount Little Joe (I don't think I wanted to know, by this point I had already heard enough horror stories to last me a lifetime and I didnt want to know about it any more), he was saying that there were 6 humps along the pathway, and once you got to the last one you know you are nearing the top. He also mentioned that he had done a few of these including the one in Hong Kong, which had to be the hardest one that he had ever completed.
For me it was one foot in front of the other until I got to the top! We eventually made it out of the forest area and were approaching the more residential part. We received a text message from Tania letting us know where she was and if was wanted anything. After a little discussion Dave and I thought we were good, until Sarge asked for a steak sarnie. Wow, that sounded amazing, so we asked for one too (we really were not used to this, especially as with everything we usually just support ourselves and not think about it, so having someone there was just incredible).
Olinda is a beautiful area, and somewhere I would love to visit again on a more leisurely trip (maybe a bike ride or something would be nice). We got there, and Tania had our steak sandwiches all wrapped up for us which was just magical so it was still warm. As we waited for Greg and Sarge to join us, Tania sorted out my blister on the back of me heel (it wasn't looking too good), when Dave saw it, he didnt realise it was so big, I guess I was lucky as it had already burst, but it was just still rubbing. Tania put some tape on the back which was like a miracle cure (honestly had no issues for the rest of the journey). We waited for while waiting for Greg and Sarge and as we waited I started to get cold, shivering as we stopped moving. Tania put a blanket on me, before I lost all my heat. Sarge joined us and Greg was soon after, Sarge having had some trouble with cramps so I gave him some salt tablets to help and Greg still having issues with his feet.
Our initial plan to get through the check points as quickly as possible soon disappeared, as we had to sort through all the issues. Which is better to get them done at the check points rather than on course. After about 45 minutes we were on our way again, Tania encouraging us to take our head torches as it could take some time to get through it and by the time we get to the next check point it could be dark, plus at the moment with a push we could still make the 18hour target.
Total Time: 3hrs 12min
Cumulative Time: 8hrs 24min
Cumulative Distance: 42.6km
During the course we managed to catch up with the team from Lysterfield (the one where the girl tripped and fell). Whom announced we had reached the 50km mark (we hadnt) but we celebrated and carried on going. Dave and I stuck together as we navigated our way along the tracks, we did eventually get to the half way mark sign where a few teams stopped to take photos, we did this as well. As we were doing this, we saw Sarge approaching behind us, so we got a group photo at the half way mark, and pretty much stayed together the rest of the way.
As we approached certain sections, Sarge would explain what was around the corner (he just knew the the path so well), still wasn't sure if I wanted to know or not. Some of the path, was a little rough under the feet as you felt the large stones stick onto the soles of your shoes, thanks to the Moxie Gaitors we had, we had no stones make there way into the shoes.
During this section, we decided to slow our pace down again before we got too far ahead, mainly as we didnt want to wait too long at the check point and risk cooling down and getting cold again. So it was nice to walk alongside Sarge until we approached some of the hill sections, it was hard to slow down so we just kept at pace and charged up the hills. We did see Greg at the higher points so we knew he wasn't too far behind us. Again as we were walking along at a nice steady pace, Tania messaged us if we wanted anything, again Dave and I said we were fine until she mentioned pumpkin soup. She really did know exactly what we needed and when, more than what we thought we knew we needed. It was such a welcoming moment when you finally reach the next check point. Although when some of the guys there, turn around to me and say oh you again and then went onto explain that we usually reach the check points just before their teams did.
The pumpkin soup tasted so good.
Not long after we arrived Sarge and Greg soon followed, I think at this point I was getting tired and ratty and was trying to sort myself out as the sun was fading. Putting my thermal wear on, as well as my shin gaitors and shin socks , I was also trying to refill my camelbak as I had only just finished it as well as drink my soup. When I sort of snapped when I was being rushed, especially as I was trying to get everything done as quickly as possible, as it happened we were there for 25 minutes, I was surprised how quickly it went, but I pretty much know it wasn't like I was just not doing anything. Tania was amazing fixing Daves blisters on his feet, which I am pretty certain would have been a little stinky. Greg was suffering from some butt chaffing, Lizzie showing her love and fixing him up (so much love).
Torches at the ready, we were off again to check point 6.
Our time was definitely slowing down, and by this stage it was hoping we could complete it within 20hours.
Total Time: 3hrs 22min
Cumulative Time: 11hrs 46min
Cumulative Distance: 58.1km
The school was great, offering a range of food and drinks (didnt actually have anything here). Greg had to readjust and Dave and I had a mini argument, I guess the fatigue was really setting in (it was only mini and didnt amount too much), and we still had some distance to go.
Another team that I remembered from the start were next to us at the checkpoint, with one of their team members opting to stop there (they weren't hard to recognise as the guy was about 7ft tall). Not sure how long we were at this check point but it was definately longer than what we anticipated. Next up was the section everyone warned us about, which was extremely long and boring, plus in my head we still had another 2 check points to go, Lizzie informed us that it was actually only one more check point until the finish, but the last section would be the worst. Great thats something to look forward too.
Total Time: 2hrs 25min
Cumulative Time: 14hrs 11min
Cumulative Distance: 71.3km
We got to the Warburton Highway and crossed over, a few people were over taking us just as they were running/walking, running/walking, running/walking. Dave was starting to get cold, and I tried to find the hand warmers that Lizzie gave me. For some reason I couldn't quite work out how they worked, and they just wouldn't heat up. Dave fixed them for me, and they soon kept my hands warm, even though I was trying to give one to Dave (but him being stubborn decided to stay cold), it really didnt help that we weren't moving quick enough so we were cooling down relatively quickly.
Annoyingly my torch ran out of batteries and the spare were in the first aid kit, in my bag, which was with Tania and Lizzie. I even had it on the lowest beam possible so not sure why it ran out of batteries so quickly especially for the price of it. Annoying I didnt have the actually rechargeable battery in there but normal AAAs, so this might have affected it. I couldn't remember if we had picked up the rechargeable one, and there was no way I was looking in my bag for it.
Also I think dehydrating had possibly set in, as I was having to stop and go to the toilet quite frequently along this track.
During the parts we were next to the Warburton Highway, people were beeping and flashing as they drove past. Not sure if it was for encouragement, but all that was going through my head at this point was that they had finished and are now on their way on home.
Everything was getting cold, and of course you are not seeing as many people at this time. Eventually we made it across the Warburton trail and to check point 7.
A few were feeling it at this point, I think I was just losing the plot and kept asking Lizzie to find stuff in my bag as I knew if I couldn't find them I would start getting angry. It was only small things like my first aid kit for my batteries, but just having someone there to calm you down is just what we needed.
Dave was being sick, and Greg and Sarge were sleeping, I just sat there, not really wanting to go on any more. Had enough and was seriously ready just to pack it all in, I was just over it, especially as in my head I was hoping we would have been finishing around about now and not having to go across to another section. Before I completely lost it, Lizzie found my rain coat too, so I would get too cold. Tania was a saviour again offering me her cortex jacket and walking sticks. I took the jacket reluctantly and really appreciated the sticks. Lizzie also got us some hot chocolate, which gave us a much needed boast. Whilst everyone else slept, I concentrated on staying warm, Lizzie planning on waking everyone after an hour and half.
Of course we must of needed the rest, and with a great big push from Lizzie and Tania, before I had a complete mental breakdown and burst into tears, we were heading off again on the final trek. My legs and feet did feel a lot better and was somewhat thankful for the rest period, I was also grateful for the sticks as we moved on down to Mount Little Joe.
Total Time: 3hrs 22min
Cumulative Time: 17hrs 33min
Cumulative Distance: 84.6km
At this point I was thankful for the extra layers, it definitely helped with the open areas, my good old spartan hat, gloves (Tania gave me an extra pair to wear), plus her cortex jacket, so my top half was really warm with my sports top (which would have been stinky by now), thermal top, 2xu jacket, rain coat and cortex jacket. 2 pairs of gloves, wooly hat, same sports pants, with shin guards and gaitors. At this stage I hadnt changed by socks or shoes, and didnt really want to fight the possibility of my stollen feet.
The walking sticks helped, but just keep my hands and arms moving, keeping me nice and warm. All these things really did help the journey.
The tunes were still in my head, we were all still walking together at a considerably slower pace in which we started, and I knew that the last 20-30km would be the hardest, not so much the track but my mind overall.
After about 9km we got to the golf club, we weren't going to stop but the thought of having something nice and warm sort of lifted the spirits, so Dave and I had another pumpkin soup whilst Sarge had a Hot Chocolate. Greg looked like he was getting a quick shut eye before we moved on.
After our little boost and having heard some stories from a guy that we were sat with telling us how he pulled the pin last time he did Mount Little Joe (seriously not what we wanted to hear just before we do it).
The goat trial was unbelievable in which I think there were some quite big drops, probably a good thing that we couldn't see anything). Greg had got a new lease of life and was marching ahead, as got to the first section, he advised that if we wanted to take any layers off, now would be the time. The gloves, hat, rain coat, gortex jacket, plus 2xu jacket all ended up coming off. I still had my thermal top on and sports top under that, so I was pretty warm. Dave was feeling the cold more than me, but I think because of the walking poles, I stayed a little bit warmer. They were a massive help, especially on the down hill sections, preventing slipping and also having that extra assistance as we made our way up the slopes.
We often shouted out to Sarge to make sure he wasn't far behind us, and stuck together once we were all at the top. You could see the lights at the bottom, at first I thought it was the finish line, but we eventually worked out that it was actually the golf club, which was really weird.
Some guys were running down the slopes, I have no idea how considering you could hardly see a thing, the trail wasn't as nice as the goat section to walk on, and you could really feel the stones under your feet.
Once we got to the steeper sections we had to keep putting one foot in front of the other, Greg and Sarge were behind us somewhere, but I think by this stage we wanted it to be over (well I know I did at least). I guess this is the main section where the hills start and you need to start climbing. You could see the flash lights at the top, so you had a rough idea on how far you had left. Of course somewhere midway my torch ran out of battery again!! Seriously this was ridiculous, who would have thought that the torch would have gone through two sets of batteries in such a short period of time. I just had to stick with Dave so I could see where I was going. As we approached the top, some guy kept shining his torch right on us, in which Dave not surprising snapped back, having a bright torch shine in your eyes is not a great thing.
We must be close (ish) to the end, but I didnt want to think about that, we had to make the downward trek now, which seemed to be extremely steep and slippery. Of course we were not running down that, and had to take it a little bit more carefully, I was more concerned with the impact on the knees than anything else.
We were so close.
As we approached the bottom, the volunteers had made up some arrows using glow sticks, which was a little bit more cheery.
We had made it, we could see the finish line. The overwhelming, emotional feeling that sweeps over you in completely unreal, getting myself composed we made our way to the finish line. We than waited for Greg and Sarge so would could all cross together.
We did, and we did it as a team, we had all finished!!!
Total Time: 5hrs 57min
Cumulative Time: 23hrs 30min
Cumulative Distance: 100km
I cant help but think of the what if, what if we didnt stop so long at the check points or what if we ran/walked along the Warburton trial, would we have made our 18hour target, but like everything you don't know what will happen on the day.
We obviously needed to stop at these checkpoints, and having the Pumpkin soup at the golf club just before Mount Little Joe gave me and Dave a much needed boost. You could never account for everything that may happen, from blisters, achilles, shins, cramps, general sickness.
I am proud of all of our achievements especially as we had all come back from some sort of injury, our training was limited. I have a few black toe nails to mark the occasion, so I am sure it wont be too long until I lose them.
I am so so grateful to Tania and Lizzie for just being amazing, we never had the luxury of having support crew before as we never want to put anyone out. Plus when you have no family here, who do you actually ask, but the benefits are unreal. I cannot thank them both enough for what they did for us during the whole entire event, they were just amazing, and I am sure if it wasn't for them I probably would have pulled the plug at check point 7.
This is an amazing achievement to everyone that took on the challenge and completed it, it really is a test of mind, body and spirit. A team of team work and encouragement and the good will to raise money for Oxfam.
START: 6:28 a.m.
GAIN: 2355 m
START: 58 m
MAX: 604 m
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